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Angela Rayner ‘shouts “Scum!” at Tory MP’ during coronavirus clash

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was today accused of calling a Tory MP ‘scum’ after he claimed members of the opposition frontbench view coronavirus as a ‘good crisis’. 

Speaking in the House of Commons the Conservative backbencher Chris Clarkson suggested senior Labour figures viewed the current outbreak as an opportunity to be exploited. 

Ms Rayner, who was sat on the frontbench, then appeared to heckle Mr Clarkson who asked her: ‘Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?’

The exchange prompted an intervention from a furious Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing who said she would not accept such comments in the chamber ‘under any circumstances’. 

Tory MPs immediately demanded an apology and called on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to reprimand Ms Rayner over the alleged remark.   

Angela Rayner was today accused of calling a Tory MP ‘scum’ during a House of Commons debate on coronavirus

Conservative backbencher Chris Clarkson said he heard Ms Rayner make the remark after he criticised Labour's response to the crisis

Conservative backbencher Chris Clarkson said he heard Ms Rayner make the remark after he criticised Labour’s response to the crisis

The clash between Ms Rayner and Mr Clarkson happened during an opposition day debate in the Commons this afternoon as MPs debated funding for areas facing additional coronavirus restrictions. 

Labour is calling on the Government to publish ‘clear and fair national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses’ in areas moved into Tier Three. 

Mr Clarkson, the Tory MP for Heywood and Middleton, told Labour to ‘park the opportunism’ as he cited comments made by shadow education secretary Kate Green who previously said Covid-19 was a ‘good crisis’ for the party. 

He said: ‘I know (Kate Green) thinks this is a good crisis that the Labour Party should exploit, and I know she speaks for a lot of her frontbench colleagues when she says that – you just need to see it in the support, U-turn, oppose approach that has characterised their hindsight-heavy behaviour.’

Following a heckle from Ms Rayner, Mr Clarkson replied: ‘Excuse me, did the honourable lady just call me scum?’ 

Dame Eleanor immediately interrupted proceedings and blasted: ‘Order, order, order. From the front bench we do not have remarks like that. 

‘Not under any circumstances, no matter how heartfelt it might be. Not at all.’

Making a point of order in response to the accusation, Ms Rayner said: ‘I think one of the things I’d ask for your guidance on is (Mr Clarkson) saying things about the front bench which is inaccurate in their speech and I’d ask them to withdraw it.’

Dame Eleanor replied: ‘It is not for the chair to decide what is accurate or inaccurate, I cannot make such a judgment.

‘But of course, I will ask (Mr Clarkson) to be reasonable in what he says and to be careful of his remarks.

‘And I’m sure that if (Mr Clarkson) feels that he has said anything that is offensive to (Ms Rayner) then he will undoubtedly withdraw and apologise immediately.’

Resuming his speech, Mr Clarkson said: ‘Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and thank you for your guidance. 

‘To clarify, I asked (Ms Rayner) if she called me that (scum) – that is what I heard.’

Mr Clarkson proceeded with his speech without withdrawing his earlier comments.  

A furious Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing intervened and said she would not allow such remarks 'under any circumstances'

A furious Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing intervened and said she would not allow such remarks ‘under any circumstances’ 

Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, called for Sir Keir to ‘take action’ against Ms Rayner. 

Tweeting a video of the exchange, she said: ‘This is totally unacceptable from Angela Rayner. At 29 seconds you can clearly hear her call Chris Clarkson “scum”. 

‘As elected representatives we have a duty to lead by example. Will she apologise and if not will Keir Starmer take action?’   

Fellow Tory MP Dehenna Davison echoed a similar sentiment as she said: ‘Absolutely disgraceful behaviour from the Labour front bench. 

‘Rayner needs to apologise immediately. This is not what politics is about.’

Ms Rayner was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party in April this year after rising to prominence in Westminster as shadow education secretary in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. 

The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, first elected to Parliament in 2015, has previously drawn heavily on her experience as a one-time struggling teenage mother.

The mother-of-three was 16 when she had her first son, Ryan, and has told how becoming pregnant so young ‘saved’ her. 

She proudly welcomed her own granddaughter at the age of just 37 with a tweet jokingly referring to herself as ‘Grangela’. 


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